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Page last updated at 08:55 GMT, Wednesday, 18 August 2010 09:55 UK

Swimmer Kate Haywood goes from despair to medal success

Lincoln swimmer Kate Haywood
Haywood set a new 50m breaststroke personal best in Budapest

Kate Haywood's gold medal in the medley relay and silver in the 50m breaststroke at the European Championships in Budapest capped a remarkable comeback for the Lincoln swimmer.

Last year the 23-year-old had been diagnosed with an injury which threatened to end her career.

"I first had a problem in May 2009 with what we thought was my back and groin," she said.

"Eventually I went for a scan and a week before the team left for the World Championships in Rome I was told I had a tear in the cartilage in my hip and couldn't compete.

"I had surgery on it and was on crutches for six weeks and was then essentially in rehab until January when I started swimming again."

I'd had such a bad year and I couldn't believe I was now standing on the podium to get a silver medal

Kate Haywood

Some doubted that Loughborough-based Haywood, who was a semi-finalist in the 100m breaststroke at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, would ever return to her best.

But she says the chance to compete at the 2012 Olympics in London were a big incentive in her recovery.

"A lot of people thought that would be it. Even the surgeon said to me I shouldn't be doing the breaststroke kick, but when you have the Olympics in your home country coming up, that's what keeps you going.

"I said 'I want to be there' and I've been working really hard to make sure I'm there in 2012.

"My mum and dad are always behind me. They want to see me succeed as much as I do. My boyfriend's always there supporting me and I've got great friends as well.

"But it's not only friends and family. There's also everybody at the ITC [Intensive Training Centre] in Loughborough who are all there to help so it's not like I had to do it myself, I've had a lot of support."

Kate Haywood
Haywood was one of six silver medallists for Great Britain in Budapest

But the nature of the injury has meant Haywood has needed to make changes to her training regime.

"Even now I can't do the full breaststroke kick because of the irritation and tightness around my hip," she admits.

"I can't do as much work on my legs so I've been working hard on my upper body so that's much stronger.

"It's perhaps a good thing because I've had to work on things I wouldn't have before. Things have had to change - whether they'll ever be the same again I don't know."

And Haywood says that after all she had been through, winning two medals on the same day in Budapest was an emotional occasion for her.

"After the 50m I was thinking 'Is this really happening?'

"I'd had such a bad year and I couldn't believe I was now standing on the podium to get a silver medal.

"Because there was a rush to get to the relay I didn't really have time to think about it. So to get the gold in the relay as well made it one of the best days of my career."



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